Being the middle of Spring, there is an abundance of artichokes around the farm and I thought I would share a simple artichoke recipe which is not only easy to make and very tasty but most importantly easy to eat … no more having to use your fingers and scrape individual artichoke leaves between your teeth.
Serves 4 to 6
4 to 6 medium sized artichokes
good pinch of salt
100 grams minced beef
1/2 cup of chopped fresh herbs (mixture of parsley, basil, thyme, oregano)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
good pinch of some dried herbs or ½ cup of fresh herbs (finely chopped)
Plain flour for dusting
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1. Wash artichokes and slowly begin to remove the hard-leathery outside leaves of the flower bud, until you get to the soft supple inner leaves.
2. Trim any ragged leaf edges at the base of the artichoke near the stem and then lay flat and cut the top of the artichoke off (around the 2/3 mark) and trim the stem.
3. Rub the surface of the artichoke especially the cut edges with a cut lemon half and then drop into a pot filled with water.
4. Repeat for the remaining artichokes.
5. Add the spent lemon halves into the water as well a good pinch of salt and place pot on the stove to come to a boil.
6. Cook artichokes in the boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. It depends on the size of the artichokes you want them to soften but they mustn’t be too soft as they will begin to disintegrate and fall apart.
7. Remove artichokes from the hot water and place into a cold-water bath so they cool quickly and leave in cold water until ready to use.
8. When ready to stuff artichokes and prepare for cooking
a. mix all the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
b. cut each artichoke in half lengthways, so you create two halves exposing the artichoke heart.
c. if the artichokes are old the centre may have some fibrous filaments around the heart – these should be removed.
9. Gently, fill the cavity of each halved artichoke with a little of the stuffing mixture and set aside.
10. Once all have been filled, you are ready to crumb the outer surface of each artichoke half and then deep fry.
Top crumb the artichokes
11. Line up a small bowl with some plain flour, a bowl with a lightly whisked egg and then a plate/bowl containing the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and herbs which have been well combined.
12. Dust the surface of each artichoke (one at a time) in the flour. Place into the whisked egg and then the crumb mixture and pat well so the crumb mixture adheres well to the entire artichoke surface. Set aside and repeat for all remaining halves.
Frying Crumbed Artichokes
13. Fill a deep pot or frypan with approximately 3-4 cm of oil and heat. A quality vegetable oil is best, as it has a higher heating point to olive oil but the choice is yours.
14. When oil is hot gently fry the artichoke halves in batches, so they become golden and browned all over. Generally, this will take 5 or 6 minutes.
15. Remove from oil and place on some absorbent paper and repeat until all are cooked.
16. Deep fried artichokes can be served as an appetiser, entrée or main. You can add any sauce of your choice – mayonnaise, chilli, tomato salsa or even a salsa verdi with or without a side salad.
You can use commercially produced artichoke hearts if needed (anytime during the year), just seek out whole hearts rather than pre-cut versions.
Further, you can stuff the artichokes with a mixed cheese and herb filling if you prefer, for a completely vegetarian alternative – equally scrumptious.